Blogging

Is Blogging “Technical”?

It’s no secret that I am a geek. Guilty as charged, I have been since I was about age 9 so it is a bit late to start denying it. Because of this aspect (flaw?) of my character I seldom notice when things are “techy”. I take for granted things that I know others find tricky. Setting the timer on a VCR for example. Knowing this I ought not be surprised but I was shocked today to hear someone tell me that blogging is “techy”. Is it really?

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are some things that hold back a great deal of people from getting into blogging. There is a base level of “web skills” that need to be mastered first for a start. There are conceptual things like “logging in”, “posts”, “links”, “comments”. Of course this all has to be understood and to learn it you either need a VERY friendly and helpful blog system or a friendly blogger.

But is it harder than, say, signing up for and using a hotmail account? If it is, it shouldn’t be.

Back in the day, yes it was too hard for absolutely everyone but the most determined or techy to blog. You had to know HTML and FTP, needed to negotiate the minefield of web hosting, perhaps know a bit of scripting if you wanted to be really fancy. With Frontpage and Dreamweaver, and the first content management tools more people were able to join the club. It was only really Blogger and most recently WordPress.com though that really made it accessible to most.

I usually benchmark these things using my Mum and Dad. My Dad managed to blog for a while before he ran out of steam with it. My parents do pretty well with their computer, they email, use office, MSN chat, scan, make greetings cards, that kind of thing. Surely blogging is no more difficult than those things?

This is an important question for those of us who want to make money out of blogs. Judging the correct time when blogging has reached the tipping point could be a big difference in when to invest and how much we earn.

So tell me, is blogging still “techy” or is it something everybody can do now? Is blogging ready for the masses or is it still in the nerd-zone? Is blogging “techy”?

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Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

18 thoughts on “Is Blogging “Technical”?

  1. Chris, I hope that you do not think I have steered the conversation too far from your original discussion. “Relaxing” has provided some important feedback.

    So I’ve setup a forum thread, where newbie bloggers can make requests for certain types of tutorials. Anyone wanting to fulfil the request is welcome. I’ll find out where vids can be hosted.

    Please be very specific about what you want to learn. And remember, the point here is that I’d like to see requests for tutorials on some of the techy aspects of blogging, which you feel are too hard to understand from just a text article. That is, a video of screen captures and some audio instructions would make the difference.

  2. Hi Raj and Ahmed thanks for you comments
    A video on how to communicate using blogging. For example live, interactive and in context instructions with selective video support. By interactive I mean feedback which is related to the responses made by the learner. I have only just gained access to broadband and believe that with the new technologies anything is possible when it comes to teaching.

    Newbies not only want information, they often also need to know how to use it. By this I mean that the are given an animated, or if possible, video example of a simple task. They attempt to do a trial task with guided assistance, that is together with the coach. They then perform a real task on their own. Importantly feedback is provided at crucial stages where they might stumble and at the completion.

    I suppose their is much to apply from CBT (computer based training) One major difference might be the role of the trainer who can be on line to respond when needed or appropriate. Is there authoring software which can be used to write such programs? There are other issues to address such as different levels of ability and skill and of course costs

    Techies are at home with machine jargon and the computer genre in general, Newbies are used to human interaction, The nature of feed back should ideally incorporate the proven basic principles of human learning and teaching.
    Hopefully this might stimulate more discussion and ideas. If you don’t mind I could later provide specific examples of things which I am having to spend hours trying to find out.

  3. Ahmed might have a great idea there. Okay, bloggers. For those of you that are newbies, what kind of blogging video might you like to see, that would show you how to do something technical? Any ideas?

  4. Raj just use the trial version and make money out of the vids you make in the first 30 days

    Oh well…come to think of it, if you’re looking to make videos drop me a line

  5. Well, I like Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). I often link keywords to their Wikipedia definition, so as not to interrupt the flow of an article that has a lot of jargon. But even for someone like myself who was a computer science teaching assistant for non-computer students, and a technical writer, it’s still not always easy to explain technical matters without being physically beside the person.

    A written explanation can be come unbearably complicated with too much jargon, or with too many explanations. It’s the reason why I sometimes break a “simple” technical blog post into 3 or 4 parts. Although that’s not always successful either.

    I’m looking forward to telepresence (holodeck?) as a tool for remote training Then I can show people how to do something. (Or I could spend a few hundred bucks and buy something like Camtasia to do a screen capture of whatever steps I’m taking. If I had the money. And if I thought I could recoup the bandwidth costs. It’s something to think about.)

  6. I am no techie but I find that I often get stumped by technical jargon which which can usually be explained in simple language. My thinking is that technophobia, in those who otherwise are fast learners, is often motivated by the lack of hyperlinks which explain or define the jargon or context. For example NickC used “SFTP”. My question is how would a non techie possible know what that means? To understand the sentence how does one easily and quickly find out the salient information?

  7. Dude I’m a techie and even I don’t have any idea what you said…guess I’ll have to read that a few more times

  8. It really depends on what sort of blog they want to have. If they just want text then sure anyone can blog these days. If they want a little more then WordPress’ hosted site makes it pretty easy to handle images with a bit of control. If they want anything more than basic text and images appearing somewhere then you simply have to have an understanding of HTML and CSS and ideally PHP. When I’m feeling lazy I sometimes turn on the WordPress WYSIWYG but it’s so frustrating that I end up turning it off and working in HTML again.

    I registered a WP account recently. I logged in once and realised I’d never be happy with the lack of flexibility, however I have friends using MSN space, blogger, and livejournal. Nothing breaks and they get by very well and are really happy with it. If they’ve never had the skills to employ advanced hosting possibilities then it’s hard to miss them I guess

    Look at it this way. This morning I did an ANAME transfer so I can move to my new host. I did a database backup and restore and it’s not a commercial server so it’s SFTP only. Once DNS has propagated I’ll have to check that everything is operating nicely before putting modrewrite rules on the old server’s non-virtual host. I can’t even imagine having to explain what that means to a non-techie, let alone telling them how to do it by email!

  9. If you read seth’s recent posts on landing pages, you’d think that direct marketing on the Internet was the easiest thing to learn in the whole world.

    I think the problem with blogging is that the techies adopted it first, but the techies are never too good at explaining things in simple terms so there’s still a gap between the people who blog and the people who dont.

    Same thing with Firefox, I guess…but that’s a different story.

  10. I think that blogging can still be too techy for some people. For an old-school webmaster like myself, it’s a breeze. But everytime I sit down and try to write up a description of how to set up this or that, I have a tough time. Will my intended reader even understand, for example, what FTP is?

    It’s easy to say that someone using the Internet should know, but that’s not true. I’m a former university teaching assistant for intro computer science courses. It’s probably true that anyone open-minded enough to learn can learn, but often this requires having someone sit beside you and guide you. When I can (easily) remotely guide people on the process online, I’ll agree that blogging is no longer too techy.

    And this is why I’m not not anti-Blogger.com (or WordPress.com). They make it easy for a non-techy blogger to get setup and started. That said, I’ve “met” lots of non-tech bloggers who have registered their own domain and setup WordPress. Bravo! It’s possible, but not as common.

  11. It’s hard to say whether it’s ‘too techy’. I’m wondering how mass market this sort of tool/entertainment/idea is. Something like WordPress makes it quite easy, but then the previous generation (my parents) wouldn’t even consider what a blog would be for, or understand why I have one. I think for a good proportion of people it’s a fad that simply dissappears after a while, when they run out of creativity. For others though I’d imagine that this is their “thing” – whether they are a silver surfer or a teen. In that regard then nope, it’s not too techy anymore. I prefer techie though…

  12. Blogging is as techy as using OpenOffice to write letters. The whole blog thing is so easy that people without any clue can start to post their little essays in two minutes. But when these people start to think about possibilities and they start to go in ‘I want my blog to do this and that’ mode, yes then these people will be offended and tell other people that blogging is so techy.

    Still all the ISP could learn a lot and offensively start to offer applications instead of geeky webspace …

    As always just my 2c …

  13. Yeah, I agree with most comments above. Even on Blogger, creating a link or moving a photo around is technical. It definitely helps having technical savviness to come up with a great blog design.

  14. For someone to sign up to something like blogger or WordPress.com, no, not too techy.
    A lot of non-techy people (mostly teens I guess) use myspace partly as a blogging tool. Live journal was one of the originals too wasn’t it? Enough non-techy people used that.

    To get something like WordPress/Moveable Type set up on a server, yes, it’s techy, but for a lot of people, they don’t need it. Or, they pay someone a relatively small amount to get one up and running, and that’s it.

    The process of getting a domain name and hosting and FTP is too techy for most people, there’s nothing the blog platforms can do about that really. Setting up a WordPress blog once you have hosting is less techy than the process of getting the hosting in the first place IMHO.

  15. I guess there are a lot of things outside of just writing a post that require a lot of fiddling about, hadn’t thought of resizing images and all that.

  16. Yes. It is still techie. It is not too techy to open a standard blogger account and use a standard layout – but everything beyond that is. For instance, if they want to use images, most blog software makes it easy to upload images. But try explaining to someone how to resize an image and many times you will lose them – it is too much to grab onto and not worth the hassle for others.

    With the clients I have worked with – if you can build in an image resizer and a WYSIWIG layout customization tool you will be golden … mark my words … and it wouldn’t surprise me if those things will be available in the next release of blogger (along with categories dammit!).

    -Don Mak

  17. I setup wordpress for nontechie types quite a lot. even installing a theme is beyond them. they don’t get ssh or ftp or any of that end of things. but once it’s setup, they are generally fine with it. I still usually need to explain it to them a bit though, as in, take them through it once, so they know they can post pics, and how. it’s not quite turnkey in all aspects. so places like wordpress.com is great for the vast majority of those folks, as long as they are willing to experiment without fear. (many are afraid to ‘break’ it, and just don’t get in and experiment enough. perhaps a sandbox mode for learning?)

    but I do have this one guy. he can’t grasp the concepts to save his life. he calls me every time he has to post a pic, or create a link. he can handle a basic text only post. he’s an unusual case though. if you can write software that he can use, you’ve licked the problem, and should be given a crown.

  18. Blogging can be as techy as you want it to be. I have a couple of blogs where I had to do nothing to set them up and a couple others where I had to get really involved. I’m ok with HTML and some CSS but PHP really stumps me, and that’s the techy bit of blogging for me.

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